Latest For the Birds column: Hummingbirds are classic backyard entertainment

Photo by Chris Bosak A Ruby-throated Hummingbird hovers near a feeder in Danbury, Conn., summer 2016

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Ruby-throated Hummingbird hovers near a feeder in Danbury, Conn., summer 2016

Here’s the latest For the Birds column, which runs weekly in The Hour (Norwalk, Conn.), The Keene (NH) Sentinel and several Connecticut weekly newspapers.

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The smallest of birds often provide the biggest entertainment.

I’m talking about hummingbirds, of course, and they are big, big on personality even if they are small in stature, weighing in at about an eighth of an ounce. Yes, a small fraction of an ounce, which is the smallest American standard of weight. Thank goodness for the metric system so we can put a whole number on this tiny dynamo. Hummingbirds weight about 2 or 3 grams, about the same as a penny. Not a handful of pennies or five pennies — one penny.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Ruby-throated Hummingbird eats at a feeder in Danbury, Conn., summer 2016

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Ruby-throated Hummingbird eats at a feeder in Danbury, Conn., summer 2016

I have been enjoying immensely watching hummingbirds this spring and summer at my backyard feeder and in the garden now that the flowers have bloomed – at least those that the deer didn’t get to. The only problem is that “my” hummingbirds are very territorial. Usually I see only one male at or near the feeder with the occasional female showing up, too. That was especially true this spring. They are not quite as territorial now, but are still very feisty toward other hummingbirds that show up.

It will be interesting to see what happens in the fall as last year the feeder was dominated by one female. She tolerated nothing from other hummingbirds, even those that dared fly over the house in the general vicinity of the feeder. Will the male remain and dominate, or will he fly off and the female dominate? Or will the male stick around and the female push him out? Or will they tolerate each other and share the sugar water, which is my hope. Or … OK, enough ors for now. As I said, we’ll see what happens.

If you don’t have hummingbirds that act like they own the feeders, you have a greater likelihood of seeing hummingbirds in late summer or fall because of simple mathematics. In the spring the adults pass through or settle in our area. In late sum Continue reading

Help to track hummingbirds _ from Audubon

Photo by Chris Bosak A Black-chinned Hummingbird visits flowers this fall in Fairfield. Black-chinned Hummingbirds are native to western U.S. This was the first one recorded in Connecticut.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Black-chinned Hummingbird visits flowers this fall in Fairfield. Black-chinned Hummingbirds are native to western U.S. This was the first one recorded in Connecticut.

Shamelessly copied straight from an Audubon Society press release (The photo is mine at least):

Audubon Invites Volunteers to Help Track Hummingbirds This Spring

NEW YORK, NY (April 1, 2014) – With spring officially upon us, the National Audubon Society invites birders and nature enthusiasts across the country to help track the health of hummingbird populations with Audubon’s Hummingbirds at Home app. This citizen science project utilizes the power of volunteers to compile data at a scale that scientists could never accomplish alone.

Every spring, numerous hummingbirds migrate long distances and must eat several times their weight in nectar daily to stay alive. Hummingbirds visit our yards every year, looking for nectar from our gardens and feeders. As flowers bloom earlier because of warming temperatures, the impact on hummingbirds which rely on nectar could be significant. The degree Continue reading